Pathways and Achievement grant

Montana GEAR UP Achievement Grant (AG)

Congratulations to the 244 GEAR UP Juniors from 23 schools across the state who were awarded the $1,500 Achievement Grant this winter. These students will be eligible to apply for the Pathways Scholarship worth over $23,000 their senior year. Click here for a list of the 2014-2015 Achievement Grant Recipient List

Achievement Grant Recipients, to request your award:
1.  Enroll at a qualifying campus.
2.  Print and fill out the Notice of Intent to Enroll Form.
3.  Mail the form with your final high school transcript to:

Montana GEAR UP Scholarship Department
PO Box 203101
Helena, MT 59620-3101

For questions, please contact the Montana GEAR UP Scholarship Department at 1-800-537-7508 or

Montana GEAR UP Spirit of Community Scholarship

The Spirit of Community Scholarship was awarded to a high school senior who demonstrated leadership skills through a commitment to community service and plans to pursue a career in Education or Nursing. The Spirit of Community Scholarship is worth up to $15,000 annually, up to four years, and may be used to cover the student’s cost of attendance (tuition, fees, books/materials, room, meal plans, etc.) at any accredited college or university in the state of Montana that awards an associate’s degree or higher. Scholarship was awarded based on academic achievement, community service involvement, leadership, and financial need. The Spirit of Community Scholarship Committee selected Rebecca Whitesell from Arlee High School to receive the scholarship. Rebecca plans to pursue a degree in nursing from Carroll College.

Montana GEAR UP Matched Education Savings Account (MESA) Program

What is a “MESA”?
A Matched Education Savings Account (MESA), also known as an individual Development Account (IDA), is a special matched savings account for people with lower incomes. These accounts are designed to help families and individuals of modest means establish a pattern of regular saving and, ultimately, purchase a “productive asset.” A productive asset” is something of value that is likely to return substantial long‐term benefits to its owner. While your paycheck helps you to buy food and clothing and pay your bills each month, an asset provides financial security for the future. Typically, IDA savings and match money can be used to buy a house, pay for education, or start a small business. Most IDA programs focus on a particular type of asset like education or home ownership. The Montana MESA Programs are dedicated to helping participants save for post‐secondary education at a Montana school.

What is a “savings match?”

A “savings match” is a promise to supplement a MESA or IDA participant’s savings deposit at a specific rate. For example, a 5:1 savings match means that for every dollar a participant saves as part of the program, he or she will be eligible to receive another five dollars. So if you save $500 throughout the course of the program and meet all the other program requirements you will be eligible for $2,500 match to purchase the agreed upon asset. The maximum match that the participant will be eligible to receive is dependent on the particular MESA program they are eligible for. Matched funding may not be used to pay toward student loans or housing.

Montana GEAR UP Pathways Scholarship

This is a competitive scholarship currently valued at $23,100, or up to $5,775 per year for four years. The scholarship may be used at any accredited 2- or 4- year institution in the United States which awards an associate degree or higher.
The scholarship is open only to students who have earned the Montana GEAR UP Achievement Grant as 11th grader, who meet the Montana GEAR UP Pathways Scholarship eligibility requirements, and apply during their senior year of high school. The scholarship is awarded based upon a variety of factors including financial need, academic preparation and performance, participation in extra-curricular activities, community service or volunteer projects, the quality of response on the written application, and the quality of the project. 

The scholarship may be awarded over a five-year period as long as the recipient continues to make satisfactory academic progress (as defined by their college or university), completes at least six credits per semester and maintains a 2.0 GPA.

If you have any questions regarding the Pathways Scholarship, please contact 1-800-537-7508.

For a list of the 2015-2016 Pathways recipients, click here.

Freshman Orientation

Are you a Montana GEAR UP student attending a Montana college in the fall? If so, Montana GEAR UP will reimburse expenses related to orientation this summer!

Step 1: Fill out the survey here.

Step 2: Register for orientation through your campus (click on the link for your campus if you have not registered already)
Choose "pay by check" -Students must register 2 weeks prior to orientation for GEAR UP to cover the cost ahead of time. Those registering less than two weeks from orientation will be reimbursed after attendance at orientation is confirmed.
MSU: Students need to either call Hilja to register by phone at 406-994-2827, or print the registration form from the website here and mail it in. Mailed in registration forms must be marked “GEAR UP”. Students must register 2 weeks prior to orientation for GEAR UP to cover the cost ahead of time. Those registering less than two weeks from orientation will be reimbursed after attendance was confirmed.
MSU Billings: Fee is covered by financial aid.
UM-Western: No orientation fee. GEAR UP will provide travel reimbursements for travel to attend a Bulldog Bound event.
All other campuses: Email Jamie Jones or call her at 406-444-0350 for information.

Step 3: Have your parent/guardian (or whoever is traveling with you and requesting to be reimbursed) fill out and sign the W-9 here and fax it to 406-444-0425 or email it to Jessie Bliss along with a copy of a driver's license and proof of car insurance.
Reimbursement will be sent after GEAR UP receives confirmation that you have attended orientation.

GEAR UP will reimburse for the following costs associated with orientation:
  • Registration fees (if applicable)
  • Mileage to and from campus at a rate of $0.26/mile
  • Meals for 1 student and 1 adult not provided during orientation
  • Lodging for 1 adult during the orientation at current state rate

If paying for orientation travel expenses up front poses a financial hardship, please contact Jamie Jones at 406-444-0350 or Jessie Bliss at 406-444-0056 and alternative arrangements can be made.


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Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs • Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
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